Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
At least 24 people, including children, women and the elderly, have been killed by Fulani herdsmen in Omusu-Edumoga, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
Daily Sun gathered that the herdsmen, who came into the community, through the Ado Local Government axis, invaded the village at about 3:00p.m., on Monday, and started shooting sporadically killing everyone in sight while others scampered for safety.
Those killed included a man, Eric Attah and his wife, a septuagenarian, Pa Innocent Itodo, an 11 year old school girl and another 60 years old woman, Mrs. Catherine Abah among others. A man, Godwin Igoche, was also said to have lost his wife and two children while another lost his two wives in the mayhem.
Those who were wounded including a 7-year-old boy, Ilom Idoko, who lost his mother in the attack and four others had been taking to St. Mary’s Hospital Ugwu-Okpoga while corpse of the deceased victims were also deposited at the morgue of the hospital and the General Hospital, Okpoga.
Some of the locals who spoke with our correspondent in the village said the invaders stormed the village at about 3:30p.m. and started shooting and killing people adding that at a point they were moving from house to house to kill.
Governor Samuel Ortom had to travel all the way from Makurdi to the village for an on-the-spot assessment of the carnage and to commiserate with the people of the local government.
Council Chairman of Okpokwu, Olofu Ogwuche, said immediately he received a report from the police that some herdsmen lodged a complaint that some people had rustled their cattle in Omusu village, he swung into action and called all the parties together for an amicable resolution of the matter.
Ogwuche said while the meeting was ongoing, he got another news that the herdsmen were already attacking the village and he rushed there with security operatives.
Ogwuche said, “On getting to the village, we were able to recover 17 corpses on Monday evening. This morning, we recovered six other corpses and just while we are here, a corpse of a seven year old girl was just recovered while some persons are still missing.”
In a remark, Governor Ortom, who described the killing as ‘unacceptable’ said the perpetrators must be apprehended and brought to book.
According to the governor, “We related very well until these killer herdsmen came to invade and kill our people. We will no longer fold our hands and watch. 24 people killed in one day? This is not right, this is not acceptable. All we seek is justice and justice must be given to our people. Anything outside that is unacceptable
“I am happy the security agencies have gotten some of their (invaders) equipment that can be used to track them. We cannot surrender our state to criminals. We must all rise up and stop this evil that is posing a grave dangers to all of us.
“The best they (herdsmen) could have done was to report to security agencies which they did. What is the basis for attacking innocent people after reporting the matter. Those who rustle cattle are Fulani men and not farmers. How do you come and terrorize innocent people who knew nothing about the matter? We shall do the needful and ensure those who perpetrated the criminal acts are sanctioned according to the law.”
The governor who also noted that the anti open grazing law in place in the state did not discriminate against anyone said it is to protect both the farmers and the herders stressing that anyone who wants to stay in the state must learn to obey that law.
Ortom who also reasoned that there was no need to keep the corpses for too long said the local government would be assisted to quickly make arrangement for their burial as soon as possible.
He also urged the youths of the village to team up with security agencies to police the area so that those who had deserted the village can be encouraged rose home soon.
Earlier, a member of the community, Barr. Isaac Ojobo, whose elder brother was also killed in the mayhem, disclosed that the village had been deserted following the attack.
While commending the security operatives for their quick response in coming to the village, Ojobo, however, lamented that burying the deceased victims was going to pose a huge financial problem as the attack was unexpected even as he appealed to the governor to assist in ensuring the burial of the deceased victims.
The Benue State Police Command in a statement signed by its image maker, ASP Moses Yamu had earlier confirmed 16 people killed in the attack.